Dec 31, 2008

Dear Bro...

Dear Bro,

Congrats on your first day. As you take your first tentative steps, I feel I should give you some advice. Hand-holding, if you may. It may sound like unnecessary talking down to you, but please bear with me.

You could not have chosen a better time to come. The world is in turmoil. People are confused. Afraid. Depressed. Outraged.

It was not always like this. When I first came in, people were very happy. They predicted that I would bring much prosperity. Much more than what they already had got before I came in. They crowned me king with great pomp.

I oversaw a great deal of emotions. Happy times. Sad times. Depressing times. I just kept going, stoically doing my job, irrespective of what happenned.

Loads of positive things happenned under my watch. But I never walked around with my chest puffed up. I let the people take credit for it all.

Then, some pretty bad things happenned too. Strangely, the same people who took credit for the good times started blaming me for all the misery. It is a thankless world, bro, let me tell you that.

I hoped things would settle down. But it only got worse. Soon, people were crying for my ouster. Little did they know that I cannot be impeached. I go only when my time is up.

I hoped for some perspective. For people to remember the happy times too, as much as they groan about the miserable times. But, it was not to be.

Soon, my time was up. The same people who crowned me with joy now want to bury me and forget my time. They are crying out for change. They hope you might bring about some of that positive change.

I hope you are up to it, bro. I just hope you can bring back the good times. Ignore the cynical bastards who say nothing will change. They may turn out to be right later, but for now, we need some positive thinking. Remember, man lives on hope of a better tomorrow.

One last thing, bro. By chance, if you fail to bring about cheer, remember that people may curse you too. Don't take it personally. After all, it is not in your hands entirely.

Enjoy your place in the sun, while it lasts.

Much love,
Your much abused elder brother, Year 2008.

Dec 18, 2008

The Perfect Romantic Dinner

I have occasionally been accused of being incapable of romance. Like most things that people say about me, this is also patently false. Allow me to recount one of the most romantic dinner dates (and the only one) I had.


The year was 1999. I was just another hormone driven teenager. Struggling to come to terms with my culture shock of stepping from a sleepy little town into a city which claimed never to sleep!

I was quite a shy guy. In fact, the shy guy. Saying ‘Hi’ to a girl was the equivalent of bungee jumping. Asking one out for a date was the same jump without the rope. Why, even if God pulled a miracle and some girl actually asked, “Can we go for a coffee?”, “No, we can’t”, was my mantra. Hadn’t heard of Obama back then, you see.

Till I met her, of course. I was smitten. Totally. Stars in my eyes. Twinkling bells even.

After four months of nervous stolen glances, I mustered enough courage to say ‘Hi’. Another three months passed before I became comfortable enough to pass one of my infamous PJs in her presence. Surprise, surprise, she laughed. She actually laughed.

Emboldened by my friends’ assurances that ladki hansi toh phansi, I tentatively walked up to her and squeaked, “Would you… er… Can we… er… I mean…?”. Some part of mind realized that I was mumbling incoherently, but then love does that to people. She, like all girls, could read my mind like Sachin reads a Warnie longhop. And she played the perfect square cut, and said, “yeah sure, we can go for coffee today evening.”

Whoopie! (not Goldberg!)

After three Shetty hotel coffees (those were not the days of Barista and CCD, in case you forget!), I summoned all my courage (and the entire pocket money of the month) and suggested a dinner date. Did not even fumble, mind you. And, she accepted.

So, the plan was in motion before you could say 'lucky bastard'. I went home whistling all the way, feet two whole feet above the air. (Note to engineers: metaphorically speaking, before you throw the law of gravity at me now!). I picked out my best shirt, ironed it myself, wore it, found a few creases, ironed it again till I feared it would burn. Took a bath, brushed my teeth, stole a few drops of after-shave from my cousin’s closet, looked at myself in the mirror and thought (hammed?), “There’s a reason why I am called SRK!”

The dinner was at a hotel (decided by her, I was new to the city) that was pricey by a struggling student’s standards. As we sat down, and I opened the menu, I left out an audible sigh. She looked up, and asked, “What happened?”. “Just thanking my lucky stars, for this lovely date”, I replied. I could be charming when the occasion demanded.

As she ordered the starters (Rs.45/-), I was calculating the odds of my charm working with the hotel’s manager. I didn’t order a starter for myself, hoping that she’d consider sharing a plate romantic.

We moved on the main course, two sabzis (Rs.65/- each) and four rotis (Rs.6/- a piece), and suddenly the four crisp fifty rupee notes in my wallet seemed woefully inadequate. “No dessert and no tip should get me out of here alive”, I thought to myself. May be she’ll not notice that I didn’t tip. Or think I was being conscious about money, and appreciate it. Maybe I can crack a smart one tomorrow about how lost I was in her eyes, that I totally forgot the tip, and she’ll laugh it off. “Hope is all you have”, said the angelic inner voice. “And one whole rupee to tip, just in case”, said the devil inside. “Wow, my devil has a sarcastic side”, I thought to myself.

I resolved to tune out these voices, and concentrate on the goddess in front of me. Man, was she beautiful. “She couldn’t have evolved just like that, God definitely created this one”, the angel on the shoulder exclaimed! “Yeah, ignore the stunner in front of you and start refuting Darwinism now. Perfect timing!”, the devil on the other shoulder squeaked.

But it was a beautiful dinner. I successfully managed to tune out the devil and the angel, and even managed a few stupid PJs. She laughed, and heartily at that. Not a polite, let’s-not-disappoint-the-idiot laugh, but a genuine oh-so-cute-giggle. “I can see you are already on cloud nine”, the angel remarked; “so what if the bill is already one hundred ninety nine!”, the devil chipped in. "Wow, my devil can rhyme too!", I thought to myself.

We finished the meal (why, oh why does time run so fast?), and I was already praying to all the Gods that I hadn’t believed in earlier, to somehow make her ignore the dessert. May be she’ll say ice cream is fattening. After all, girls are always weight-conscious. Except the fat ones.

Sure enough, she closed the menu and set it aside as the plates were being cleared. “God does exist, and he just answered your prayers”, the angel was literally jumping on my shoulder. “One coffee please”, she smiled sweetly at the waiter, and then looked at me. “I’ll skip, I’m full”, I replied weakly. "Skip on a full stomach? you'll get cramps", quipped the devil. "Hey, my devil can pun too!", I thought to myself.

“A coffee is just 6 bucks. I surely have 5 bucks change on me”, I said to myself. I didn’t want to fish around my wallet in her presence, so I excused myself and dashed into the washroom. Only to find that I had exactly four crisp fifty rupee notes, no more, no less. Maybe, I can borrow 5 bucks from her. Maybe, she’ll turn out to be this broad-minded types who insist on sharing half the bill. Maybe I can leave my watch here as ‘security deposit’ and bring the money tomorrow. My mind was going berserk and the two voices also did not have any bright ideas.

“Whatever happens, this dinner has been the highlight of your life so far, so go out and face the problem like a man”, offered the angel after some time. “yeah, she might think you have an upset stomach if you sit any longer in here”, the devil smirked. "Wow, my devil can make crappy remarks too", I thought to myself.

So, I walked out, telling myself, “With her on my side, I can face the whole damn world. What’s a few irate waiters and hotel managers?”, and took my seat.

“Thanks for the nice evening, am sure we’ll go out again”, she said and got up to leave. I looked around for the waiter, to bring the sheet of paper that will be my death sentence.

“What are you waiting for?” she asked.

“er… nothing… the bill”, I managed. I was hoping she’d not be present when the time of reckoning came.

“Hum Bill De Chuke Sanam”, she said.



And THAT concludes the most irritatingly long PJ that you would have been subjected to in your life!!!


PS 1: I know, I know, lots of writers before me have made pun of this movie title. But, a little "inspiration" is excusable. After all, it is a Bollywood PJ.

PS 2: Jeffrey Archer uses this 'hotel' situation in at least two of his short stories. And, no I am not comparing myself to him. But you can sure read those to improve your mood after this stupid exercise.

Dec 16, 2008

More on Engineers!

After the last post, I had resolved to myself that I won't write another post on engineers and bad puns. But then, I had also resolved that I'd exercise every day, and not touch alcohol for a year. So there!

Anyways, the reactions from those readers who are engineers were pretty predictable (logical?):
The Chemical Engineer accused me of rubbing Sodium Chloride into his wounds.
The Electrical guy was shocked at my rudeness towards engineers.
The Mechanical guy showed no emotion.
The Aeronautical Engineer flew off the handle.
The Marine Engineer was all at sea and did not know how to respond.
The Acoustic Engineer made a lot of noise, thus betraying his profession.
The Environmental Engineer claimed my mind was polluted.
The Computer guy gave me what looked like a programmed response.
And true to his branch, only the Civil Engineer was polite.
PS 1: After the last post, I realized that those engineers who do read MY posts may not be all that logical, and hence would be able to recognize the illogical puns. So I have decided not to highlight the bad puns with italics.
PS 2: Of course, the fact that the author received a couple of death threats from some of the aforementioned engineers (other than the Civil guy, of course) has nothing to do with the lowlighting of bad puns.
PS 3: I have always been acused of over-doing a PJ to the extent that it becomes overkill. And I plead guilty.

Dec 12, 2008

Who engineered this financial crisis?

Some say the financial crisis was caused by lending to people who did not have the capacity to pay their loans back. Some say it was caused by greedy investment bankers hankering after million dollar bonuses. Some say it is light regulations which allowed i-banks to over-leverage.


The crisis was caused because finance firms started hiring more and more engineers instead of the sticking to the traditional accountants.

I have nothing personal against engineers. (or maybe, I do...)

I feel engineers form a very useful part of the the world we live. Who else could build all those roads and bridges, who else could write code so that I can write crap and hit 'publish', who else could make those sexy cars... but the trouble starts when engineers start poking their slide-rulers into areas that they don't understand.

Engineering students are people who take things literally. They apply logic where it shouldn't be applied.

Like this engineer who was asked to write a note on the difference between Equity and Preference Capital.

He wrote, "Equity means a sense of fair play, where one does not discriminate. It means that if the Fed bails out Bear Sterns, it will put money in Lehman Brothers in the name of Equity. Preference Capital means giving shares to investors whom we have a preference for. So, Goldman will give wonderful terms to preferred investors like Warren Buffet."

Or take the case of another brilliant visionary who was asked to give the difference between Long Term Debt and Short Term Debt.

He wrote, "Long Term Debt is the next management's headache. Short Term Debt is the current Government's headache."

He also claimed, "Secured Debt is that which is already tied up, while Unsecured Debt is that which has been let loose." That is another problem with engineers, they are always showing off their brilliance.

I also bumped into this genius from Calcutta who said Debenture Capital need not pay fixed returns because De-benture Capitalists (or BeeCee s) are those who inbest in small start-ups in the hope of selling out when the company grows and don't mind losing money on a deal or two. He hoped to find a BC who can provide seed capital to his latest inbention.

And then, there was this Mech. stud-boy who thought Fixed Assets are those that have been repaired. And the same guy argues with me that Intangible Assets cannot be part of the Fixed Assets, because no even the smartest IITian can fix something which cannot be seen.

And did I mention that Electrical Engineer who considered himself an expert on Current Assets? He said that he could even create a charge on those assets any time the company wants a loan.

One guy, a successful supply chain manager, kept asking that if Stock is an asset, how can Provisions be a liability? "After all, what do you call those provisions which are stocked in your kitchen," he asked smartly.

These engineers I tell you!!!

That's why my prescription for solving the global financial crisis doesn't involve trillion dollar bail-outs, or interest rate cuts.

Just ensure that the logical engineers get the bloody hell out of finance and go back to laying roads and writing code. I can bet my last worthless share on the fact that no team of boring accountants could have come up with exotic derivatives. We accounting guys don't do anything exotic. Or erotic. That's just the way we are.


PS: I normally trust my readers ability to spot hidden (and not so hidden) bad puns. However, in the remote likelihood that some of the people who read this could be engineers, I have highlighted some bad puns through italics.

PS: For Engineers Only: And no, italics is NOT something from Italy. It is when you write text in a 85 degree angle. Like this.

Dec 8, 2008

And the punishment continues...

After the last post on bad puns (which unfortunately for you, was not a pun on the word last), I continue to impose my bad puns on my rapidly depleting readership...

While we made fun of last names last time (again, no pun on last!), we decide that even first names can be made pun of...

So, here goes...

Is that Guy Ritchie the same one who divorced Madonna?

"Let's Mark Waugh for some special treatment", said Allan Donald to his captain before unleashing his bouncers!

God is certainly a skilled artist. After all, he Drew Barrymore so beautifully... (droooool)

Of course, the guy who entered a moment ago was Justin Timberlake.

And now, for the usual below-the-belt dirty ones...

What did Linda Tripp tell Monica Lewinsky? "Let's Bill Clinton for the services performed"

Is that Dick Fuld? (after Lehman went bust!)

PS1: of course, I could go on and on about Rob/Mike/Rose etc, but I'm not that much of a sadist. Not yet.
PS2: If you are a believer, please pray that better sense prevails and I go back to writing about bullshit, or even stupid rhymes...

Dec 3, 2008

Enough of cynicism, let us have some pun!!!

Am tired of TOI's usual 'Sach a pity' when Tendulkar gets injured...

and they always did the 'Wright choice' headline when John Wright was coach and India won anything...

So, I have decided to challenge TOI's monopoly on stupid puns, and decided to come up with some of my own:

Come, watch Tom Cruise past in his bike in MI-2.

It is rumoured that Roger Waters down some obscene lyrics in his Indian concerts to avoid the moral police.

"Is Gordon Brown?" - Does he support Asian immigration?

"Was Anne Frank in writing her diary?" (no offence to the moving narrative)

"Carl Barks at his cartoons, and they quack back at him!"

"Britney Spears to the top of the charts with her latest single!" (yeah right!)

And my personal favourite...

Brooke Shields her chest after Blue Lagoon! (why, oh why do I always think dirty?)


PS: Readers are encouraged to come up with their own. Phonetic puns like "Goldman Sachs people", twisting words like "Is Sharon Stoned?" are also allowed, but it would be better if you can use the name as is.

PS 2: Partly inspired by the sidebar here.

Dec 2, 2008

Why am I so cynical?

Dec 26 2008

Times of India Headline: “Terrorists attack Mumbai airport, 300 dead!!!”

In yet another audacious assault on India’s secular fabric, armed terrorists attacked Mumbai’s airport last night. The shocking incident which revealed the lax security measures in place, has citizens wondering whether anyone is in charge in this city.

Reliable sources revealed that the intelligence agencies had given a warning on the possibility of an attack on the airports soon after 26/11. It may be noted that Times of India was the first to report on the possibility of these attacks.

Police sources said that while airport security was beefed up, and more scanners were installed, they couldn’t monitor the entire perimeter of the boundary wall surrounding the airport. Police sources claimed that it was impossible to watch over every inch of the boundary wall, given that there were many slums adjacent to the airport. Interestingly, both AAI and BMC have been blaming each other for failure to remove the slums, while a local corporator has been opposing the demolition.

Times of India Editorial: “Vote-bank politics lead to security lapse”

We at the Times Group have always advocated that security of the people should not fall prey to petty vote-bank politics. We have highlighted the aspect of slum-lords occupying more and more land adjacent to the airport, and the security implications this presents. All our warnings have fallen on deaf ears, and innocent lives have been lost. It is time that the authorities concerned pulled their act together.

Bombay Times Page 3: “Our politicians are no better than eunuchs” – Shobhaa De

I was about to give my views on Aamir’s sexy look in Ghajini, but this tragedy has overwhelmed such superfluous issues. Public memory is shorter than Aamir’s in the movie, it seems, and we only have ourselves to blame. Our Deshdrohi politicians are more intent on banning films rather than taking care of our security.

The spirit of this city has been broken, but we’ll bounce back, dahlings.

Bombay Times Page 5: “Numerologists blame the number 26”

A leading numerologist has claimed that he predicted the attacks a month back. “You see, the number 26 adds up to 8 (2 + 6 = 8), which is unlucky for India. We had Mumbai floods on July 26, Mumbai terror attacks on November 26 and Gujarat earthquake on January 26. The number 8, if you observe closely, resembles two circles, and is symbolic of the vicious double cycle of natural and man-made disasters that it signifies.”

Meanwhile, another numerologist also claimed that the number 26 was unlucky. “The number 13 is widely known as an inauspicious number. What people don’t realize is that 26 is double of 13, and is hence doubly unlucky. People should stay indoors on the 26th of every month.”

Indian Express Specials: Arun Shourie

Opposition parties took the state to task by highlighting the inefficiency of the incumbent government to act upon the available intelligence. Arun Shourie attacked the government saying that there have been repeated warnings but the ‘spineless’ government had ignored them every time.

“The Intelligence Bureau (IB) had sent a confidential report to the government about the high possibility of terror attacks on airports as early as 2002. A committee on Airport Security had reiterated the warnings in 2007. However, the ministers seem to be more interested in pleasing their party president than in securing the lives of innocent people”, he said.

“It is time to replace this apology of a government with strong leadership. It is time to choose the party with a difference”, he concluded.

Mumbai Mirror: “Local corporator who opposed slum demolition forced to resign”

The local corporator who opposed the demolition of slums adjacent to the airport has been pressurized to resign. Angry citizens have held that vote-bank interests of one party should not hold the country to ransom. However, is it too little too late? SMS your opinion to 2612.

The Hindu: “Left leaders blame privatization of airport for security lapse”

Members of the Politburo blamed the privatization of the Mumbai airport for the lapse in security. “The private contractors are only interested in lining their pockets, and do not care for the lives of the passengers”, thundered Mr. Prakash Karat. “We have always opposed private interests in critical areas like airports. Did any of the AAI-run airports become targets of terror?” he asked.

The Hindu Editorial: “Social inequality will eventually lead to terror”

Many of the people in the slums live on a monthly income which is far lesser than the cost of even a no-frills airline ticket. They observe the crass consumerism in the airports where a sandwich costs more than their weekly pay. No wonder some of them were disillusioned enough to provide base for some of the terrorists. While this paper by no means condones the act of the slum-dwellers, it is pertinent to note that a large part of Bharat is increasingly sidelined while India hurtles forward in lopsided development.

DNA Headline: “Citizens to go on candle-light march”

The citizens of Mumbai are fed up of being subjected to terror day in and day out. It is time for active citizenship. A silent candle-light protest march is planned on December 27, at 5.00 p.m. “Enough is enough. It is time the elected representatives took us seriously. We will protest till action is taken”, said a college student.

“We will not allow the terrorists to pull us down. We will book tickets and fly tomorrow, just to show them that they can’t challenge our society,” said a businessman.

PS 1: All newspaper names are real, since I was too lazy to think up spoof names. I apologize in advance for any insult, so don’t throw your lawyers and libel suits at me. These are some of the newspapers I read. I have a friend in HT, so I decided not to do my take on Vir Sanghvi.

PS 2: If you happen to be a cop, I'm NOT in collusion with any of the terrorists. All this is speculation based on today's newspaper headlines.

PS 3: I am not much of a believer, but I do pray that none of the above actually happens.

PS 4: Long post, I know. Not humourous, I know. Not serious enough, I know. Just a follow up on the cynicism that has built up over the past one week. This too shall pass. And then the PJs will be back!

Dec 1, 2008

Outrageous apathy or apathetic to outrage...

It would be an understatement to say that the events of the last few days have shaken me. The mood ranges from helplessness to despair to anger, but strangely has settled finally on cynical.

My first reaction was that of every angry citizen. Which is:

Confirm that all your near and dear ones are alive. Check.
Thank God for that. Exchange stories on how close you were to the site, how lucky you feel to be alive etc.

Salute the brave police force, army, NSG, fire brigade, hotel staff. Check.
Forward smart ass sms-es to all and sundry.
The spirit of Mumbai cannot be broken by a few gun wielding terrorists!
Where is Raj T hiding? The NSG came to Mumbai’s rescue, not the MNS.
God may forgive the terrorists, but we will fix their appointment with HIM. Etc. etc.

Watch the repeated gruesome images on TV. Check.
Change channels, just for the heck of it. All of them show the same images. Some of them may gloat about the wonderful work of their cameramen. Etc. etc.

Rant about the insensitivity of Burkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai etc, while watching their programs non-stop. Check.
They are beaming live images, compromising on the commando operation! They are asking insensitive questions to the victims’s families, and to the survivors. They are sensationalizing the incident. Etc. etc.

Rant about the callousness of the panel of experts lined up by those channels. Check.
The usual suspects would be Alyque Padamsee/Prahlad Kakkar (‘the South Bombay angle’), Shabana Azmi/Mahesh Bhatt (‘the minority angle’), Shobhaa De (‘the socialite angle’), Rahul Bajaj (‘the business magnate angle’), Rahul Bose (‘the intellectual actor angle’), Rakhi Sawant (‘the outrageous quotes angle’), and one spokesperson each from BJP/Congress/Left (‘the politics angle’). That the same ‘experts’ are lined up for every issue from gay rights to smooching in Bollywood, from economic slowdown to terrorism, does not deter outraged citizens from ranting “Do these guys know anything about ground realities?” Etc. etc.

Rant about the spineless opportunistic politicians. Check.
Why did Modi go to the scene of attack before Manmohan? Why wasn’t the PM more emotional in his speech? Why did Shivraj Patil change his outfit in the middle of the crisis? Where was Raj Thackeray hiding? How can RR Patil call this a ‘minor incident that happens in big cities’? How can RGV accompany the CM? Etc. etc.

Rant about the system failures. Check.
What was the intelligence doing? Why don’t we have NSG type units in every state? How can lathi wielding policemen be expected to counter AK-47 wielding terrorists? What happened to the federal agency which was supposed to co-ordinate intelligence from various agencies? Why did it take 15 hours for a relative to claim the body of a victim? How many more attacks before the country takes it seriously? Etc. etc.

Think up ways to show ‘solidarity’. Check
We’ll go to Leopold and have chilled beer. We’ll arrange candle light marches. We’ll donate blood. Join a ‘Say NO to Terrorism’ community online. Etc. etc.

I must confess that I went through each and every one of the above emotions over the last 3-4 days.

Then, thanks to my perverted understanding of a glorious religion, which tells me that what is destined will happen no matter what. And it happens for good. And, if you die today, you always have the next birth to fulfill your remaining dreams.

So, I finally settled on the easiest path. Pure cynicism.

Come and shoot me. Bomb me to hell. I just bloody don’t care.


PS: Neither does the state. But they won't say it outright...